DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were recently invited to a concert by a friend, who said that his daughter had bought the tickets but was unable to use them. We were delighted and went with him. We offered to pay for the tickets; he declined, but we bought his dinner.
Knowing his financial situation, we sent him a check for the amount, but wonder if that was insulting.
GENTLE READER: Your exchange with your friend was both explicit and implicit. Allow Miss Manners to tell you what you said:
By offering to pay for the tickets, you were saying that you were unclear about whether he was taking the opportunity to be your host or merely trying to unload the tickets. You got a definite answer when he refused your money.
By inviting him to dinner, you were reciprocating his hospitality. So far, so good.
Then, by sending him the money that he had refused, you said, in effect, "Come on, we know how badly off you are. You can't afford to be generous, but we can."
Miss Manners would call that insulting.